Darts: Diary of a Darts Player: From Russia With Not Much Love to the Hammer
This is the first time I^ve written an article based around a typical PDC competition weekend. This week we were playing in two tournaments in Doncaster, the Bobby Bourn Memorial Tournament on Saturday, and the North East UK Open Qualifier on the Sunday.
The Bobby Bourn is not a typical kind of tournament, as the draw is done on the day, when the PDC know who is in attendance. This year there are 142 entrants, and you need to reach the last 64, to make the prize money. That might not sound too bad, but considering the players on show, it is no easy task.
In the run-up to a tournament weekend, I generally practice at least a couple of hours a day. Then the anticipation builds as you wait for the appearance of the draw on Thursday on the PDC website.
Thursday arrives and there in the headlines on the front page is the comment about the extremely hard board No 9, with players such as Dutch star Co Stompe, world No 7, Andy ^The Hammer^ Hamilton, 2008 UK Open runner up Gary Mawson, and another couple of players who have recent world championship experience.
Moving down the lists you look for your name and see who you^ve got.
I quickly find Eastbourne player Jim Withers, who has Colin Lloyd, a hard match for him, Adrian Gray faces Par Rihonen who is attending his first tournament, and then there it is, my name…on the tough board No 9 against Andy Hamilton!
Now I don^t really mind playing anybody, but there are obviously certain players that you^d rather avoid in the first round, the little ticket with my name on must have been put into the pot by someone with jam on their fingers I think, it seems to stick to players that are only in the top 32 in the world, which in some ways is great for my experience, but not necessarily results!
Anyway, Friday evening I set off for the drive up to Doncaster, picking up Adrian Gray on the way.
Saturday morning we head off to the venue, and when we arrive, enter into the arena to find that the heating was not working.
If you remember, last Friday night was possibly the coldest night for a long time, and subsequently the arena (which was about one-and-a-half times the size of the Brighton Centre) was absolutely freezing.
Eventually the organisers hired some industrial heaters, and the place began to warm up, although it was not an ideal situation in which to play darts.
It was pretty funny watching Ronnie Baxter chalking a game wearing his jacket with the hood up!
The place was buzzing on Saturday, there were TV crews, photographers, and on the whole a lot of interest in Russian lady player and current BDO World Champion, Anastasia Dobromyslova making her PDC tour competition debut. Needless to say, everyone was eager to see who would meet her in the first round.
Fifteen minutes before start time, and the draw sheets are put up, there is a mad rush to see who has drawn whom?
Everyone is asking who got Ana. Well there could only be one person really couldn^t there? I was drawn out first, to play Anastasia in a preliminary round.
You always try to prepare for a game as best as you can, but by now I had 10 minutes to get over the fact that the whole venue was going to watch me play a lady.
If I^m honest, I was absolutely gutted; there was suddenly the pressure of me possibly being the first player in PDC history to lose to a lady.
I started the match very nervously with a huge crowd all in virtual silence.
I won the leg and felt a bit better. The next leg was very close, but Ana checked out.
In the third, I was left sitting comfortably on a double, then bang…she checks out on 146. Superb darts, but it finished me off, and I went on to lose.
Looking on the bright side, I gained much publicity. Sporting Life, Sky Sports, and every darts site on the internet were announcing that I^d created PDC history.
On to Sunday, and my match against "The Hammer". This was never going to be easy, but I was properly prepared.
He won the first leg in 11 darts. I started the second with a 140, 137, and 140, and checked out in 13 darts.
That was the only leg I won, losing 6-1, but I was happy to be on a finish in each leg, knowing that he was ranked 7th in the world and that I can make the best players play their top game. I just need to go to the next level and beat someone. It will come.
Both Adrian and Jim lost their first round matches also, so we were all home early enough to witness my prediction of Ted Hankey winning the BDO championship. Why didn^t I bet on that?
Back to local darts, and congratulations to our King^s Head team on winning a match against the Grenadier on Friday, despite being two players short.
Monday I played for Hailsham MI club and we beat the Nuthouse from Eastbourne. I played well, and hit the match-winning double. So I can still win a game then...
Story By: Sussex Epress